Michael Glover: A welcome addition to our modern cultural landscape

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The Independent Online

Another eye-catching move from Brand Saatchi, you might say. To create, and then to move on. This time, by gifting many artworks from his private collection to the nation, and by throwing in the Saatchi Gallery on the Kings Road to boot, he is undeniably creating an enduring legacy for himself which will be called, when it opens in 2012, The London Museum of Contemporary Art.

He has done it time and time again – bought deftly, and made a name for himself by doing so. And when he hasn't bought well, he has sold again. In the Eighties he bought an old paint factory in north London and turned it into a white-walled exhibition space unlike any other then to be seen in the capital. In 1997 the aptly named "Sensation" show opened at the Royal Academy, showing mutilated mannequins, a shrunken dead dad and other stomach-churners. All the works in that show belonged to Saatchi, who had been buying the young British artists for years – the first serious collector to do so. Later he got rid of many of them. Then he shifted his gallery to County Hall beside the Thames – not an especially wise decision as many of the spaces were too awkwardly institutional for the display of contemporary art. Luckily, Saatchi left after arguments with the landlords.

Since 2008 he's been in the former headquarters of the Territorial Army, and the space has all the panache he requires. The exhibitions have been good and bad, but some of the most interesting of the works he has acquired over the past couple of decades and more will, if the nation accepts, soon belong to it. Best of these will be Richard Wilson's marvellous installation "20:20", which works reflective wonders with sump oil. There'll also be the significance of Tracey Emin's sad, crumpled "Bed" to contemplate. Of the more recent acquisitions, the best is Zhang Li's horrifying installation of suspended bodies, "Chinese Offspring", which was the most memorable piece in the recent show of contemporary Chinese art at the Saatchi Gallery.

Should we welcome this gift? Will it be an important addition to London's cultural landscape? Undoubtedly. Saatchi has bought much rubbish in his time, but he has also bought well, and many of his best buys will soon be the nation's – if negotiations go according to plan. What is more, the gallery will be free to visit. And if Saatchi seems even more pleased by his own image in the mirror the day after tomorrow, no one needs to look.